Last season, Theatre LaB Houston offered plays based on "Fascinating Women," such as the Diane Arbus-based Silence, Cunning, Exile or the presidential punnery of First Lady Suite. Now the theatre is turning to the movies for inspiration.
The LaB's fifth season will go under the banner, "Hollywood Theatre," with plays and musicals either focusing on Hollywood or based on famous movies.
Three of the six shows have been announced for the season, including a new musical based on the darkly campy 1982 comedy, Eating Raoul, The Musical. Here's the line-up:
Four Dogs And A Bone (Jan. 7-Feb. 10, 1998)
John Patrick Shanley's caustic comedy of a middle-aged producer, an actress seeking a major role, a scheming ingenue, and a screenwriter all hoping for the big score. The show played 240 performances in 1993 at Manhattan Theatre Club. Shanley's other plays include Psychopathia Sexualis and Missing/Kissing.
Starring at the LaB are Therese Kotara, Christian DeVries, Ben Pollock and Melissa Cox Clarke. Bill McDonald directs. Artistic director Gerald Blaise LaBita told Playbill On-Line (Oct. 22), "I've wanted to do Four Dogs since the theatre opened, but Dramatists Play Service wouldn't give me the rights for some reason. Yet last year, they finally came through."
Bang The Drum Slowly (Feb. 25-March 29, 1998)
Eric Simonson recently adapted Mark Harris's screenplay for the 1973 film drama, which starred Robert DeNiro and Michael Moriarty. Drum tells of a baseball player learning that his friend and teammate ha Pinal disease.
Eating Raoul - The Musical (April 15-May 24, 1998)
Paul Bartel, author and director of the 1982 cult flick, Eating Raoul, collaborates with Jed Feuer and Boyd Graham on a musical version of this cannibalistic comedy. Set in 1970s L.A., the hedonistic world of Raoul follows the Blands and their scheme to rid the world of "weirdos and sexual perverts."
Says LaBita about the Hollywood-based season, "I enjoy coming up with a theme. As for the second half of the season, which comes after our annual Fringe Festival,I've been talking with Douglas Cohen about No Way To Treat A Lady. I'm also very interested in doing the new version of Merrily We Roll Along, which has a Hollywood tie-in to it. Possibly Jules Feiffer's Carnal Knowledge as well."
Even before the new season starts, LaBita has the current slate to work on. Cakewalk opens Nov. 5, and the theatre will have its fifth annual "Day Without Art" benefit Dec. 1. LaBita explains that he commissions Houston playwrights to write 10-minute pieces about AIDS, to be staged at the event. All proceeds from the door go to a non-profit Houston AIDS organization. "This year," says LaBita, "the group is the AIDS Foundation Houston.
For tickets and information on shows at Theatre LaB Houston call (713) 868-7516.
--By David Lefkowitz